Special Section: Political ecologies of extinction, edited by Bram Büscher

Extinction in transition: coca, coal, and the production of enmity in Colombia's post-peace accords environment

Authors: Hannah Meszaros Martin (Goldsmiths, University of London) , Oscar Pedraza orcid logo (Bard College)

  • Extinction in transition: coca, coal, and the production of enmity in Colombia's post-peace accords environment

    Special Section: Political ecologies of extinction, edited by Bram Büscher

    Extinction in transition: coca, coal, and the production of enmity in Colombia's post-peace accords environment

    Authors: ,

Abstract

At the Paris Climate Summit in 2015, then Colombian president Juan Manuel Santos proposed constructing a multi-national biodiversity corridor that would extend from the Andes to the Brazilian Atlantic coast. Santos highlighted increased militarization of the territory as one advantage of the corridor. In this model, ecological conservation becomes a matter of national/natural security, in the form of counterinsurgency to counter illegal economies. Climate change and ecological disaster mean the forest needs the military power of the State to save it from destruction. We argue that such conservation entails a form of necropolitics lying in wait; because to conserve one part is to condemn the other – framed as the enemy – to certain destruction, as land is simultaneously designated for large-scale development projects. Conservation, in effect, becomes tied to a form of extinction. Our article examines two increasingly militarized frontiers that work through conservation in Colombia. The first is where the Andes meets the Amazon rainforest, an area that has seen an increase in deforestation following the 2016 Peace Agreement with the FARC. Deforestation is often attributed to the cultivation of coca (used to produce cocaine), and the solution posited by the government is to eradicate the plant. We argue that eradication of illicit crops is a form of enforced extinction that militarizes the forest, targeting both human and non-human inhabitants. The second frontier concerns coal mining on the Caribbean coast, where mass environmental devastation induced by the industry has led to a forced reorganization of life in the region. The military guards the sites of extraction and those who oppose coal mining become targets for elimination. We bring these two cases – coal and coca – into dialogue, to trace the extinction-driven expansion of extractive economies, a process intertwined with armed conflict, narcotrafficking, and now with transitional politics.

Keywords: Necropolitics, transitional justice, conservation, militarization, Colombia, counterinsurgency

How to Cite:

Martin, H. M. & Pedraza, O., (2021) “Extinction in transition: coca, coal, and the production of enmity in Colombia's post-peace accords environment”, Journal of Political Ecology 28(1), p.721-740. doi: https://doi.org/10.2458/jpe.4780

Funding

  • NWO-VIDI grant (nr. 425-14-001)

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Published on
31 Dec 2021
Peer Reviewed